Forget French, it’s time to learn Pushto!

Published: March 1, 2011

Incentives can be provided to students who learn an additional regional language.

Education is more than a predefined curriculum or a Grade Point Average (GPA). It can shape a society. But the education system in Pakistan has failed. The people of our country do not understand each other and have allowed issues based on culture, language and even clothes plague the future of the country.

In Pakistan, diversity has turned into a burden and coexistence of culture and opinion has turned violent and bloody. All this is a result of an education model that promotes isolation and hatred.

Education exchange

The launch of an extensive student exchange program within the borders of Pakistan can remedy the problem of intolerance. Student exchange programs are extremely popular worldwide. Students are encouraged to spend some time outside their home country to learn about other environments and cultures.

This inculcates a sense of tolerance and respect whereby a student learns to accept an alien lifestyle. It highlights the need to realise that one’s culture is not superior to another’s.

Start local

Having an international exchange programs is expensive so an inter-province program is a more practical approach. Most students never get the opportunity to study in more than one province. They reside in hostels based on their ethnic backgrounds and each group flocks together, speaking its own language. The walls become so strong that no outsider can think of squeezing in and the slightest chance of learning about other group’s way of life is eliminated.

This is very similar to the national scenario.

There is no better way of washing away these negative stereotypes than actually living in the host environment.

Help out

The public and private sector can help create a system where students can easily move from one institute to the other.

One way of doing this can be to provide financial support to students who pursue a few months of their university education in a different province.

Bridging the language gap

Students love to study languages like English, French and Spanish. If given the option, many would love to learn regional languages as well.

Incentives can be provided to students who learn an additional regional language.

How great would it be to see a Punjabi wearing a Sindhi topi, speaking Pushto and eating Balochi sajji in the streets of Quetta?


Samir Butt

A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Wasio Ali Khan Abbasi

    The trouble is that most people, especially from the rural areas of the country, rarely get the chance to interact with people who speak other language. City people, however, do come across differed language speakers since a lot of people flock to larger cities from across the country. The biggest hurdle, however, is the more dominant Urdu speaking community who rarely venture out of Urdu and English languages.
    Ethnic Sindhi, Saraiki, Punjabi, Pushto and Balochi speakers, one way or the other, are forced to learn Urdu in order to socialize in the big cities. When educated class does not bother with other languages, it becomes difficult to open up to ethnic stability and optimism, often leading to clashes based on language and ethnic background. Forcing schools to include Sindhi language in their curriculum didn’t helped much as most often students forget whatever they learned except the famous “Hiyo Bholro Ahe” (That’s a monkey) sentence from the text books.
    So unless the educated masses in the big cities strive to understand people, their culture and language from other parts of the country, there is little that can be achieved by just writing blogs.Recommend

  • Le Mystique

    Nice article and great ideas.Recommend

  • Pervaiz Iqbal

    Dear i agree with the above comment the problem is that the language of the cities is urdu nd office is english, nd these regional languages must be used at home nd in peers, but the problem with us is that we even dont bother to use them in peers nd in family at home, nd these things make thibgs difficult.Recommend

  • parvez

    Out of the box thinking – great.Recommend

  • Noumaan Shamsi

    yes!! as a linguaphile myself, i love this article. Recommend

  • Huma Iqbal

    A very good approach to the idea of integration, Samir. I have been looking to learn a foreign language for some time now and though the idea of learning a regional language lingered but always at the back of the mind. I would like to follow up how your proposed idea turns into reality. Interesting, very interesting. Recommend

  • Sarchina

    Great ideas and well Written.!! This is some thing what our nation needs to work on..i liked it and i am going to write my today’s response about this in my class :) Recommend

  • Ali

    I would love to learn Sindhi! We should make it more accesible to learn other languages of the country… very good idea and best of luck!Recommend

  • umar

    loving the ideaRecommend

  • http://hongkong wahab

    I totally agree with the writer.. Good work.Recommend

  • Dark Knight

    Our President is a Baloch wears a sindhi cap lives in Islamabad has been incarcerated in different jails in Punjab and Khyber Pakthoonkhwa and can speak Balochi,Sindhi, Punjabi and little bit of Pushto! that counts for something!Recommend

  • amberaziz

    very goog article n great suggestions……its a great idea to exchange students and learn regional languages..Recommend

  • Khalid Rahim

    Samir Butt Sahib e star e mash e. Teh zhan ta butt wai, teh kashmiri jabe ke khaber e kol
    e sheh. Pashtun sta jeb a o deh nor e jabe izda kol e shi, Teh and a tsa shan teh khalq sok che marchako sa ra likal kai. aghi the Pashtana hamdard na hi. Teh yao laram hei.Recommend